I bet you clicked on the link for this blog post only to find out what “scriptless” means, right? Scriptless? I think you know “merciless”, “brainless” or even “topless”, but “scriptless”?, what’s the thing with this word, after all? Well, I like to think I invented it (didn’t find it in a dictionary anyway). And it literally means: “without a script” (yeah, right).
Beyond this rather light introduction there’s a far more serious theme for this article, and, at least for me, a far more important challenge: how to avoid playing roles in our lives? Yeah, this is serious stuff.
Unconsciously playing games is happening more often than we know. For the vast majority of our time, we’re acting on auto-pilot. Some of these behaviors are useful (like answering to a “hello” instinctively: it makes your social life easier). But some of them, and I dare say most of them, are poisonous. We’re repeating stuff we engrained in our behavior when we were kids. We didn’t have the tools and experience to analyze those behaviors, we took them for granted. We became a Victim, a Rescuer, or a Persecutor. There are many other scripts, but some of the most common are those three, and they form the foundation for the social games people play.
So, how to live a life without playing those roles? How to avoid being caught in the trap of automatic thinking and reacting? How to break free from your early conditioning? I would very much lie if I would tell you right now that you’ll find the answer to those questions by reading this blog post. I know that for sure. I know that by claiming that, I will in fact play the role of the Teacher. You know the type: the one that claims to know everything and put himself on the pedestal of the verified science. And I’m not that. It will be only a script.
But I know that after reading this article you will start to ask some questions. Many of them won’t have answers. And, even worse, many of them will have answers, and you won’t like them at all. Let’s start.
My Main Script
One of my main scripts is “be good and good stuff will come to you”. This script was created during my “domestication”, or childhood, a period in which I was exposed to the reward / punishment binomial. If you behave the way we tell you to (you are good) we will reward you. If you don’t (you are not good) we will punish you. This script is so powerful and so deep in my being that I’m totally frightened only by thinking at it.
How many times was I “good” although my guts told me not to play the expected role? Thousands of times. And what happened? Was I rewarded? Here comes the confusing part: nope. I wasn’t always rewarded. Sometimes I was, sometimes I wasn’t. Which totally confused me. The initial script stated that if I do a certain sequence a steps, a certain result will emerge. Well, it didn’t. Why?
Because life is not predictable. Life is all about change. About new stuff. Trying to coerce life into a set of fixed rules will not work. Every time you’ll be exposed to a new set of events, into a different context. Every time will be different. So, shrinking life into the pattern of “be good and good stuff will come to you” simply won’t work. It requires a great deal of effort, patience and persistence to coerce life into somethingÂ predictable. And if this huge effort will eventually work, if it will really create a sustainable Universe around you, that Universe will be incredibly small and… yes, predictable. Which is another word for boring.
The Business Man Script
Back to my script now: how did it worked? Well, let’s take the business side of my life. By now many of my readers know that I had an online business for the last 10 years, that I successfully sold two years ago, and that experience was the inspiration for one of my most read ebooks so far “30 Sentences For A Millionaire Mindset“. Yeah, exactly. I was a succesful business man. And that ebook will really give you 30 sentences to create a millionaire mindset.
But let’s go a step beyond the “business man” label. Did I really wanted to be a business man? What was my motivation for those 10 years? What was my drive? Unfortunately, it wasn’t a genuine desire to create value. I wish it did, but it wasn’t. It was a script. The script of “make a lot of money and people will accept you and value you as a person”. As you can see this is a variation of the script “be good and good things will come to you”. I use to call this variation of the script “the biggest bullshit ever”. Notice the word “bullshit” in my article? Good. Because I will write it again: “bullshit”. A big, smelling bullshit.
That script took a few years out of my life. Each and every day I woke up with the firm conviction that if I would be a successful business man, if I wouldÂ make a lot of money and build an image of success, good things will happen. Never really knew why this would happen, actually, it was just a thing I knew. Didn’t have to know: it was all in the script. So, I learned the rules, implemented them and become successful. Was I successful in terms of my script? Absolutely. Was I happy? Nope.
There were moments in my career as business man that I really enjoyed, There were other moments in which I would rather be in some exotic place, but I didn’t. I stayed there at the office because I had to play the script. Looking back in time, the enjoyable moments were very few. And they lasted only a few days. The rest of the time, meaning 10 years, I was on auto-pilot. I was putting to work some skills, but without putting my soul, my self or my life into it. A robotish approach. An actor playing a script.
By now you may start to understand what’s the problem with those scripts and why they are making us unhappy. A script will take away your freedom. Your joy. Your enthusiasm. A script will drastically limit your choices, your experiences, your challenges. A script will make you dead alive.
The Intricacies Of Playing By The Script
Now, let’s go back to the main script “be good and good things will come to you”. Many religions are promoting this. Many social norms are also enforcing this behavior. All your education is filled with processes that will validate this script over and over. Be good, answer with kindness no matter what and you will be rewarded. Possibly in heaven.
But what happens when, at some point, your life is at stake? What happens, for instance, when somebody is really getting on you, affecting your physical integrity, or your status, or your values? You have only two choices: one, to play by the script (in this case the “be good” script) the other to reject the script and do something different.
That’s a very interesting point in playing by the script, by the way. I call this the “engagement” point. We do have a reaction time, although we’re not really using it. Even at a physical level, from the moment a certain stimulus gets to your brain, to the point you give an answer to that stimulus, there’s a small interval, under a second, in which things are pondered by the brain. During that time the brain searches for the best reaction to that stimulus. If the brain was trained to give a pre-established answer, it will most likely give it, of course, but fact is there is some reaction time. And that’s a good news.
At this point of our example, the “engagement” point, something interesting happens. If you chose to respond by the script and give back some “goodness” reaction, you may get hurt. Your physical integrity will be affected or your values will be undermined, whatever: something bad will happen. But the script will tell you that this is ok. You will be rewarded if you responded with kindness. The script doesn’t tell when exactly, but you would expect to be pretty soon.
In my experience, this isn’t happening. Nor soon, nor late, it isn’t happening at all. You’ve just been abused and your continuous hope for a change won’t change anything. And you know why? Because your reaction wasn’t a genuine one. It was a standardized, categorized, unconscious reaction to a certain stimulus. Believe it or not, like it or not, you’re acting the same way Pavlov’s dog is acting. You’re not assessing, you’re not taking the time to evaluate the current context.
If you would take the time to evaluate your context, you will discover something interesting: the script-based reaction is not the best one in that specific context. Maybe it was, in a different context, sometimes in the past, and your memory is giving you some hints about that, but in the current, specific context, responding with kindness will be just wrong. It’s like doing nothing when your house is on fire, or when a car is approaching you full speed, or when you fall down the stairs without trying to stop the fall.
A script based reaction is rooted in some pre-defined rules and we expect those rules to function everywhere. Well, it they don’t. Maybe that initial reaction may have been correct at some point (you were good, so you weren’t punished) but that doesn’t automatically mean it will be correct in all contexts. That’s the biggest trap of the scripts. We love to think that we created a certain pattern that will protect us in the future. That we “learned” something. Well, maybe we did. But what happens right here, right now is unique. It needs your full focus and attention to assess it and act accordingly. It may appear that the script based reaction was the best one, or it may appear that a new reaction, which will actually break the script, will prove beneficial.
A very big obstacle in living a scriptless life is that we think that trying something new will put as at risk. We tend to live with the comfort sensation of the script, which will tell us: “do this, and you’ll be fine” but in fact we have no way to know it. Each second of your life is different. Each moment is unique. And each context requires your full attention and presence to understand it and make the best of it. And if you do that, you’ll soon realize that this is the normal approach. The script based approach is the one that will put you at risk.
The Relationship Script
Now think about being in an abusive relationship. By the way, an abusive relationship is not only about violence. A partner may abuse the other one in various ways, from lack of acceptance up to lying or cheating. I’ve been in quite a few abusive relationships (I told you, my “be good and good things will happen to you” script was pretty powerful) so I know it can get pretty bad without violence.
So, when you’re in this abusive relationship, you have a choice: accept it (be good) or don’t accept it (break the script). When you accept the abuse, you reinforce the script, but you also reinforce the behavior of the other person. They don’t know you’re playing a script. They don’t know you acknowledged the abuse, but still, you decided to “forgive and forget”, they think you’re enjoying it. They think you gave them permission. And the abuse continues on and on, based on your own permission.
Now, what happens if you don’t accept the abuse? First thing: you will break the script. And that will have some immediate consequences. Your internal voices will start telling you: “nothing good will come out of this, because you didn’t respond with kindness”. And, depending on how powerful your script is, those internal voices can be pretty strong. It will be hard to ignore them. But at the same time, something magical will start to happen. Only outside, this time: the abuser will get an unexpected signal. Oh, so you don’t like it, after all? Ups.
From now on, the situation can evolve in several ways. The abuser may think “you’re just joking”, “or you’re playing hard to get”, and continues his abuse. In this case, sticking with your initial approach will make things clear sooner or later. Or, the abuser may realize that you simply don’t like to stay in that relationship and leave you alone (that happens very seldom, I know).
Fact is that even if your internal script was broken, the outside reality was modified in your favor. You sent out a different message, based on your genuine reaction, and that message completely changed the context, right now right here, not at some point in the past. The current context may be better or worse, but what really matter is that you actually get a grip on it, you modified it and now you know you may change it again if you want.
How To Live A Scriptless Life
Like I told you, you won’t find the answer to this in my blog post. But I can share with you my experiences in trying to overcome this limitation. And one thing that proved really helpful to me was a framework called “Assess, Decide, Do“. By framework I understand a set of simple rules which you consciously follow instead of automatically giving up control to a script. I created this framework a year ago and it surely helped me a lot since then. I can’t say I’m not following any scripts now, but at least I can spot them much easier than before. Now I know if I’m in a script or not.
So, what’s this framework about? Well, it states that we’re having only three main realms in which we are acting: the Assess realm, the Decide realm and the Do realm. Our life imbalances are in fact imbalances of one of those realms. Living a scrip-based life would be an imbalance of the Assess realm: you’re acting without thinking (assessing).
Assess – Decide – Do In A Nutshell
Assessment is the state in which you analyze, compare, learn and store your experiences.
Decision is the state in which you project your next reality. You’re coming to this stage after finishing an assessment session completely.
Doing is the state in which you’re using focus to create your next reality. You’re doing only after you have a clear decision to follow.
Each of these states are maintained by your focus and you’re shifting from one state to another by being in flow.
Flow is not a measurable concept although we can refer to it as bigger, lower or we can define some quality of it. Flow is usually perceived as your capacity of enjoying and alignment with your current context. Most of what we call joy, happiness or exhilaration is in one way or another a variation of a great flow we’re experiencing.
If focus will be the main tool for creating your reality we may refer to the flow as the master glue for keeping the pieces together. A healthy flow will allow you to go from a complete assessment to an atomic decision and that will lead to a totally immersed activity of doing.
That’s a very short description of the framework. If you want to know more, just click on the links above, they will take you to more detailed articles on this topic.
Now, how this framework will apply to a scriptless life? Well, is much more simple than you think: just be aware of what happens to you (Assess), make a decision based on this assessment (Decide) and act upon it (Do). Then restart the process.
Any script can be killed if you’re continuously assess your current situation. There may be times when you will shift from one script to another, based on how deep your scripts are engrained in your behavior. You may realize that you have scripts in scripts, which in turn are part of other, bigger scripts… But as long as you try to keep each of the three states pure, you will eventually find a way to control the scripts. Maybe you won’t be able to overcome the script response completely, but at least you’ll be able to exert some sort of control over it.
It Will Work For Me?
I don’t know. It worked for me. And it still works pretty well. But one thing I know for sure: it won’t work 100%. It won’t free me completely. Being completely independent from scripts is a state of bliss. I guess this is what Buddhism meant by “samadhi”. And this is what Jesus meant by “reborn”. But I don’t think it will be possible in this current context. Or if it is, it will invalidate the context all together.
Ok, let me explain: meeting really free people around us will never work. We won’t find any. Why? Because we’re searching them using this world tools. And they are free in another world. They become free of this world.
We’re applying the script valuation instead of a scriptless valuation to their status. Maybe they are poor and they don’t have a house or own a car, those free people. Our script valuation will tell us they aren’t free, they have to do some work to get a house and a car. Maybe they aren’t famous. They’re just some anonymous faces passing by, enjoying life so thoroughly that it will make them shine from the inside. But nobody knows that they’re enjoying life so much. How could that be? Our scripts are telling us that a free man should be successful, visible, famous.
You see now? Although we may physically live in the same Universe, in reality we’re galaxies away from each other.
So, my travel to become a scriptless individual is going really well, but I may still be around for a while. And maybe, just maybe, the moment I’ll start to look strange to you, the moment I won’t fit in any of your definitions of success, the moment I will start doing or writing about things which aren’t common sense, maybe at that point I will start to enjoy my scriptless life.
How about you?
Running For My Life - from zero to ultramarathoner
The spooky thing about depression is that it sneaks in. There aren’t really trumpets and loud voices announcing: “Hail, hail, this is depression entering the room, all rise!” Nope. It’s slow, silent, creepy. It doesn’t even look like depression. It starts with small isolation thoughts like: “Maybe I shouldn’t get out today, I just don’t feel like going out”. And then it does the same next day. And then the day after that and so on. And then it starts to whisper louder and louder in your ears: “Why would you go outside, you loser? Didn’t have enough yet? Want more people to make fun of how much of a big, fat loser you are?”
And then you start to breath in guilt and shame, instead of air. Every breathe you take is putting more dark thoughts into your body.
Until you get stuck. You can’t move anymore. At all.
If you want to know how I got out of this space, eventually, check out my latest book on Amazon and Kindle.